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Three views of political philosophizing and the idea of state neutrality.

Sofianopoulos, Christos (1995) Three views of political philosophizing and the idea of state neutrality. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is an attempt to understand the Neutrality Debate, in the light of two basic distinctions: a distinction between political philosophy and politics, and a distinction between three different views of political philosophizing, which I call foundationalism, explanationism and interpretivism. According to foundationalism, the political philosopher starts with an account of what is essentially human and deduces from it moral/political principles, which should govern every human society. According to explanationism, the political philosopher seeks to understand a particular society (e.g. the Western state) sub specie aeternitatis, i.e. as an immutable, autonomous, self-sufficient world of ideas. Similarly, interpretivism focuses on a particular society (e.g. the Western state), but understands it as an ever-changing world of shared conceptions, understandings and self-perceptions, which are unearthed by the political philosopher. Of the three meta-theories only foundationalism and interpretivism are normative (regulative), whereas explanationism is an intellectual exercise. What is commonly known as "state neutrality" is actually three different philosophical positions each corresponding to a different one of the three meta-theories. Given that each one of these three state neutralities makes different epistemological assumptions, their combination into a single (meta-theoretically mixed) argument with the intention of making state neutrality more attractive to a wider audience is flawed from a philosophical point of view. Such an argument is "political" in that it seeks to persuade rather than to demonstrate philosophical truth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, Philosophy
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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